About a year ago, I switched from Direcway Broadband Satellite internet to a Sprint EVDO Rev A card for my home internet service. The choice was easy – the Sprint card was cheaper and had better speeds overall than the satellite. For awhile, I put my broadband card into a spare computer and had it share the connection via Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) in Windows XP. Then I found a router online (The WRT54G3G-ST) that would let me pop the card right into my router and avoid the ICS hassle. The best part about using a broadband card for your internet service is that when you leave, you can simply take the internet with you when you go. However unless you want to install the broadband card drivers on every laptop in the family, there is no easy way to share (Unless you think setting up an adhoc network in Vista and sharing the internet – reliably – is easy!). My Solution? A cheap and easy rig that will let you pack “The Internet” with you when you go!
Step 1 – Parts
You’ll probably want the following (At least my rig is set up like this). My rig allows for the internet to be powered through AC or DC, depending on if you’re in a car or hotel room. Here are the parts:
- Broadband card (Duh…)
- Broadband Router (The WRT45G3G-ST in my case)
- Short power strip (Optional, I suppose)
- Some sort of Power Inverter (DC to AC). Mine is 400W, however you may be able to get away with less!
- Box (Either an actual project box from somewhere like Radio Snack, or in my case, two Avon box lids)
Step 2 – Construction
You’ll probably want to plan out your rig before actually constructing it. I did mine visually, however for the sake of easy explaining, I’ll do up a small diagram (Click on it to see it a bit clearer!):
Next you’ll probably want to cut holes for vents, ports for cords, the hole for the antenna to stick out, and the power strip access. I used a simple swiss army knife as it cuts through cardboard quite nicely (What doesn’t…) and used masking tape to secure each item to the base of the box (I do want to disassemble this when I get home to put everything back where it normally goes). Feel free to improvise here – you may want to add more power ports, etc..
My design was specifically made to allow for AC or DC powering, and it works like this. When using AC, the power strip’s cord runs straight out the port to the right of it, and into a wall outlet. When on DC, it loops around the inverter (and plugs into the outlets at the bottom of the inverter. The Inverter’s cord then comes out the port to the right of the power strip, and into a car cigarette lighter. I’m planning on bringing an extension cord for the DC cord, as it is shorter than the power strip’s.
Step 3 – Complete & Accessorize
Here are some pictures of my completed rig. Note the snazzy title I gave mine (The Internet, complete edition, in color!). Accessorize to your heart’s content, just don’t block the vents!
(Edited to remove SSID – I’m paranoid…)
That’s all folks. Feel free to register and post your comments or suggestions!
Jon Westfall is a research psychologist and confirmed techno-geek. He’s a contributing editor for Pocket PC Thoughts, as well as a Microsoft MVP for Windows Mobile. This blog is where most of his longer articles reside, however jonwestfall.com also has other goodies and more than you want to know about him.